The Ultimate Guide to the Hacker’s Diet

Are you tired of dieting? Eating less calories than you burn on a daily basis is a difficult thing to learn, so the best way to lose weight is quickly and efficiently so you never need to do it again. Why not lose weight with two very efficient tools – your computer and logic? And, what better way to learn how to do this than through a time-honored free method?

The only way to lose weight is by eating less food than your body needs on a daily basis. John Walker, the author of The Hacker’s Diet, went from 215 pound to 145 pounds in less than a year and has kept the weight off without drugs or gimmicks. Walker, a programmer (he developed Autodesk, Inc. and is co-author and author of several AutoCAD books), used spreadsheets to learn how to lose weight and he offers those tools for you to use as well; but, you can use his same methods with pencil and paper.

While the term, “hacker,” may bring negative connotations to mind, Walker’s states that the true essence of a hacker is “Any person who derives joy from discovering ways to circumvent limitations.” Walker uses this quote, extracted from a comment made in a Bob Bickford article, to help people understand that hacking is a liberation from tyranny. The hacker dieter is in command of his or her health and weight.

As for exercising, Walker believes that exercise is good for two things only – living longer and feeling better. You do not exercise to lose weight. But, you may want to exercise once you begin to lose weight through counting calories and by tracking body fat percentage. Walker’s approach reflects his career as a programmer, as he approaches this dieting solution as an engineering problem, and exercise is part of the solution to the overweight problem. Although Walker doesn’t mention this issue, exercising may help retain and build muscle that could be lost through dieting.

Walker models the body as a “rubber bag” that the dieter fills with less calories than that rubber bag needs (more calories makes that rubber bag expand, less makes the rubber bag shrink). This diet provides a format for control system and feedback on that rubber bag through Excel spreadsheets (Excel also can be used in Open Office’s Calc program). The spreadsheets allow users to concentrate on long-term visualization, which can encourage people who fail to lose weight over a short period of time, the inability to lose weight because of water retention or other factors that may slow down weight loss.

Since Walker is not trained in medicine or nutrition, he prefers to concentrate on monitoring intake, weight loss and configuring the desired proportional adjustments in a control system environment. So, if you are a geek, if you’re into logistics and spreadsheets or if you simply like to work outside the box, this diet may fit your temperament. But, it may not work for everyone, simply because it may seem too confusing.

If you’re game to try Walker’s approach, the following links can provide more information. These links are listed in alphabetical order and compiled under categories to help you find the tools you need to succeed with the Hacker’s Diet.


  1. 5 Things You Need to Know About the Health Risks of the Hacker’s Diet: Learn more about the Hacker’s Diet through Lance Armstrong’s site, and author Wendy Melton.
  2. 10 Pounds in 10 Days Thanks to LifeHacker, Hacker’s Diet, and DailyPlate : Some advice from the What We Think blog.
  3. Diet – : Stephan T. Lavavej provides his insights into how he used the Hacker’s Diet.
  4. Hacker’s Diet a long-run geek ‘best seller’: This article talks more about the longevity of this diet (which Walker first penned in 1991).
  5. How to Compare the Hacker’s Diet to Other Diets: The eHow method of diet comparison, which may make this process simpler for some folks.
  6. How to Lose a Daffyd: Scroll down to learn more about how two folks lost weight through a variety of efforts – including the Hacker’s Diet.
  7. What Do 300 Calorie Meals Look Like? If food portions confuse you, then Walker isn’t much help. While he provides all the logic and spreadsheets, he doesn’t tell you what to eat for a balanced diet. This site provides pictures and ideas for meals that range between 300-400 calories.


  1. Diet Tips or How To Lose Weight with a Spreadsheet and a Web Site: Jeremy Zawodny talks about his weight loss on the Hacker’s Diet and other methods.
  2. Hacker News: This page holds comments about the Hacker Diet that may interest readers.
  3. How I lost 105 lbs. with diet, exercise, and a spreadsheet: One man’s testimony to losing weight with the Hacker’s Diet and more.
  4. Losing Weight for Geeks and Nerds: Brad Howland used the Hacker’s Diet to lose weight, and he shows a chart that he used that indicates weight loss over time.
  5. The Assayer: A review by a user who lost fifty pounds and counting through the Hacker’s Diet.


  1. Eat Watch: Walker talks about the Eat Watch in his book, and Palm addicts can use this watch to record weight and plot changes to a weight and exercise goal with this app. Walker also talks about some Palm utilities on his site.
  2. Hacker Class: This blog entry has comments that point to the Hacker’s Diet as an app for iPhone.
  3. Hacker’s Diet Screenshots: Use these screenshots for visual clues on how to use the Hacker’s Diet online.
  4. Online Google Account: Use your Google account login information to use the online Hacker’s Diet Tracker.
  5. The Calorie Counter: Although Walker includes a calorie counter sheet in his downloads, you can use this easy site to find the calorie count for anything you choose to eat.
  6. The Hacker’s Diet Plugin: Use this plugin to lose weight – but only if you’re using WordPress.
  7. The Hacker’s Diet with Jon Thysell created a conversion of Walker’s Excel tools for Open Office.


  1. Geek Diet and Exercise Programs: Jeff Atwood offers some interesting exercise routines to go along with the Hacker’s Diet.
  2. Royal Canadian Airforce 5BX Fitness Plan: This is the plan that Walker uses as a foundation for his fitness objectives, or his fitness ladder.
  3. Royal Canadian Air Force X BX Plan for Women [PDF]: This PDF contains ten exercises for women.


  1. The Hacker’s Diet Group: Offered through the Daily Plate.
  2. This Web site offers charts, forums and more for dieters, with a heavy leaning toward the philosophy behind the Hacker’s Diet. Read the “Getting Started” articles for some great advice.
  3. Yahoo!: Hackersdiet is a Yahoo! group for anyone who is on the Hacker’s Diet.
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